Hawaii 2010

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Friday, August 30, 2013

A bird or a horse?

I had another highlight in 1963. My friends father sold Ford's in Troy, and the week before the Mustang was debuted we got to see it in the warehouse room. Talk about love at first sight. Months later the older son drove a 289 stick shift to college and you really could get rubber in three gears. It was a convertible, a thing of beauty, built on the chassis of the Ford Falcon, and I guess for reasons of family size vehicles Dad brought home a brand new Ford Falcon in 64. I think it was the only new car they ever drove. It became my in 72, and I traded it for a Gran Torino in south florida in 73 with 140,000 plus miles on it.

That Mustang was a piece of creative work that made many men famous and rich, and was the date car of the decade. My Falcon, however, remained the nurd car of the decade....and such is life.

Intervention successful

My Cardiologist did another successful intervention to restore blood flow to the 80 percent blocked circumflex artery. Home resting but thankful that this will not interfere wth a very special trip to the Big Island in a month. I know I am living on extended time due to the creativity of modern medicine and I hope and pray that all the coming changes will not end one of the most effective health care models ever created.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fifty Years of Adulthood

Small town life in the early 60's, white high school float in the downtown square homecoming parade.

1963 summer, I turned 13. I had been living in the south for two years and knew practically zero black people, as we lived seperate and not equal lives. The whites in Troy Alabama shopped and visited on the town square and the blacks had their own streets off the square. We did not mix. M.L. King led the peaceful protest for civil rights and the speech was given 50 years ago this week, and it a few short months President Kennedy would be carried from Dallas to Washington in a casket.

That was the year I quit thinking childish thoughts and began reading and reflecting upon the world around me. Two decades later, working in the poor afro american neighborhoods, I would pass houses where the MLK speech would be played loundly day after day. It was their dream speech. I saw the effects of the war on poverty not really working in those neighborhoods, as grandparents raised the grand children, young men worked idly on their cars without jobs to go to, and regularly impregnated the girls in the hood who were raising children in grandmas house and collecting payments from the government to help raise them.

This is the stuff that has continued to roll on out of control and brought us to a place where integration has allowed many many african americans to become successful and educated and part of the solution, while others have languished in a system that provides enough to survive but not enough to really live, and has continued the divisions of race and economics we live with fifty years later.

My Christian faith taught me to "love everybody" but it never really modeled any kind of racial reconciliation. In fact, the many efforts to create multiracial congregations during my younger years in ministry were shortived and problematical to the point that most were teaching what was called the "homogenous unit theory of church planting" which stated that succesful churches really needed to have people that were alot like each other in social and economic status to succeed.

I would leave the south 25 years after the summer of 63. And I would find along the way that people from everywhere hate people from everywhere that are different than they are. The whites hate the wetback mexicans, the indians, the foreigners, the white trash down the block.

For fifty years I have had a dream that people would be judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.
Its no reflection on my character though, as I have worked and saved and lived in the mostly white suberbs here in Arizona for the last two plus decades. No easy answers to the tensions that divide us. Just keep singing that childrens song in my heart and trying to be ready to practice it. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another proactive procedure

My cardiologist sees a problem developing, not urgent but necessary to do another angiogram.

It is what it is, so once again my heart has informed me through my feelings over the last month that something was amiss.

No fear, just hopefulness that its fixable and thankfulness that I get gentle warnings rather that sudden and painful infarctions.

Now thats an ugly word for interrupted blood flow and heart attack.

The doctor and staff are headed out of town for the Labor Day weekend, as are a bunch of other folks. I shall stay put, relax, and live in the moment.

Sincerly hoping that the small procedure works so we can still see the Big Island in October.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The will of God

Lauras pot plants got deluged last evening when a storm blew through town, my gas grill even moved down the back walk in the wind.

How do you know if you are in the will of God? It is a very hot topic among the young who are trying to make decisions or those who have been forced to make decisions by life, those who are at a crossroad. We want to know that the direction we choose will lead to blessing and fulfillment.

The last decade or so I have been living among the retired, the aging, and the dying. When you consider the fact that I came west with the hope of being among the cutting edge of church planting folks, the young, the pioneering, and the hipsters of the faith, it would seem like I had taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Been reflecting on the possibility that the American Dream that everyone with hard work and dedication can make it in this country. I still hear folks talking a lot about it. But I also hear the other side, and see the hard facts that huge employment sectors that once provided income for all the sweet families like my who grew up in 1400 sq ft homes in suburbia do not in fact exist, and that the gaps between the haves and have nots is growing, and that the middle class incomes are shrinking precipitiously into the area of working poverty. And the images that stream from once prosperous Detroit only add to the shock.

The folks in my present home made plans, saved money, paid into social security, and although the widows are on tight budgets, they all seem to be making ends meet modestly. Some folks in the generation just a bit above me have done very well, and are able to pass on money and business to their children. The American dream. Many worked for large corporations and have generous private pensions.

Don't have any conclusions to this post except to say that time runs out for all of us sooner or later, and the will of God has much more to do with loving and serving Him and the world than it does about our lifestyle or the size of our church. The world may be taking us on a ride where none of us wants to go, where endurance may be more important that prosperity.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Duck Dynasty?

I had the occasion to stop by the Berean Bookstore last week. Its on the other side of town for me and I just don't get there often.

It is also evident that the store is less successful and run on a tighter budget since it opened a decade ago. Less Christian bling, as I observe it.

I was surprised by the proliferation of materials featuring the cast of Duck Dynasty and it somehow dismayed me that they are so desperate for sales that this show would be the best representative of traditional values we can come up with.

I think I have reached the stage in life where fame and money lose their luster, where pop culture seems empty. I am not dropping out or becoming a culture despiser, just trying to cut through the stuff that is not helping me. Stilllove watching professional golf.

Praying for those fighting fires in the west, and for the preservation of Yosemite, which I was blessed to see for the first time in 2010, I want to go back someday.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Resting and reflecting

Preached with my heart today about our love affair as broken human beings with violence and the Christians calling to stand against it and pray for and minister to its victims.

I am very thankful that I have had no encounters with said violence to body or possessions.

Very much enjoying the Golf from New Jersey and the views of Ellis Island, Lady Liberty and the breathtaking NYC Skyline.
Hoping to visit there next summer.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

On the flying of time

Today, my youngest child Brian turned 29. Last week he was part of an art show in NYC, and I remember his drawings, sketches, and endless hours of building with the enormous Lego collection we amassed over the years, the one which still is in our possesion.

The thing about Legos is that once you build the thing according to directions, the parts all end up in a huge box and you can never quite do it again, and the good part about that is the creativity you have when you have space parts along with pirate parts. And Brian went crazy with it.

As I write this morning Shannon and Ben are putting together a new set we purchased at Target last night, the grand boy has the Lego bug, and how can you not encourage such healthy developement. Still forking over cash for Legos after all these decades. I should buy some Lego stock.

Legos.....pricey.......having two generations of Lego builders.....priceless!!!!!

Time flies when your being creative. As we speak I am putting together in my head an outline for the end of my two months series on I John. I began by encouraging folks to actually enjoy this life, not just wait for the next, to live in the moment, and I end with the reminder that God himself through Paul, in a text about marriage, reminded us that everyone cherishes there own body.

In a day when people are brutally killing and beating people for sport, it is nice to remember that this life and this body and this Lego building time are to be cherished,....cherished.....cherished. Love my wife, love my kids, love my grandkids, love my body, fragile as it has become, and love my life.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Phone as Camera

Statistics say large numbers of people are using cell phones as the only way to capture family and travel memories. My daughters family is among them. It is also affecting the sales of small point and shoot cameras.

I use my phone to send things directly to facebook or when I have no camera with me, but I must grudingly admit that those little lenses can make some fine shots, as the picture in this post of a village on the Road to Hana, there is a darker subdued bluish tint and clarity are really remarkable.

I want to do something tomorrow with my camera, but it will be overcast and I sometimes get tired of the overwhelming browns and drys of this place, kind of long for color.

Will not know the test results of the stress test till next week. Guess that means I am not about to keel over.

Moon picture fail

Made it through the somewhat unpleasant stress test, results next week. Tried to take a decent moon picture last night with a tripod and cannot get the settings right to show the texture of the moon. Fun trying and fun just living life.

Heard a good commentary on the violence in Egypt being related to almost no jobs for young men and almost no food. They are in a crisis for survival and its bringing out the worst in both sides. I am saddened and do not know how to pray.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Personal health issues shrink your world

Being in good health allows you to focus on the outside world, on others. I am waiting on my stress test this afternoon and monitoring my blood pressure because I am off my meds at doctors request. My blood pressure is way to high, and this whole process makes me wish for the forgetfulness of waking up healthy and going about my daily activities without worry.

This is my lot in life though, and I promise not to over obsess after finding out the issues that are affecting me.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stress tests create stress

Spent part of the day yesterday having a temporary crown installed where my broken molar used to live. Fun, the part one of the Stress test, resting picture.

Tommorrow is the running test. I am on a forced caffiene fast until then so don't make me grumpy.

Coffee is such a lovely stimulant. A mild addiction, and joyful marking of time.

Monday, August 19, 2013

"When this tent collapses"

The human body does not last forever. I visit a saint weekly who is waiting for the final day with anticipation and it just never seems to come. Her tent is in dissaray and not really providing any shelter or life, but it just will not collapse.

I live with the possibility of immanent collapse every day. I have heart disease caused by genetically gifted SDL, small dense lipoprotiens,my blood likes to stick to the wall of my arteries, and 13 years of diagnosed diabetes controlled by medication and diet.

My heart has plaqued up more times than almost anybody I know that is still on this side of the collapsing tent. And it works on my soul.

My blood pressure sometimes spikes to alarming levels, telling me that something may be wrong in the pump that keeps the tent inflated and useful.

So today and Wednesday I will be undergoing a nuclear stress test which gives pictures of the inside linings of the arteries of my heart and shows if the plaque has occluded an artery to the point of probable heart attack. And it works on my soul.

I am hoping for an all clear, preparing for bad news, hoping to see more years in the loveable old tent, to walk the beaches of Hawaii some more. But you have to be ready, and realistic and prepared. And it works on my soul.

On top of this reflection, I broke a tooth. Got to get it fixed. And it works on my soul. Prayers appreciated.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bad Photography over

As I have shared, sometime back in March my fav lense got damaged and would not focus. It was sidelined all summer and today Canon set it back reconditioned and repaired and now I am so grateful to be getting good shots again in time for our trip the Hawaii in October.

Friday around town

Laura's row of potted flowers to be enjoyed.

A non stop day of activity kept me from posting a reflection yesterday. Out at five am for an early tee time across town. Still not early enough to escape being drained by heat and humidity as the monsoon returned. Good to hit the little round ball again.

Dealing with a broken tooth that occurred while eating a salad w/some nuts, or maybe an olive pit. My tongue is scraping against the rough area exposed on the tooth and creating irritation and pain when eating and talking, two things that make life good.

Dinner at Pita Jungle, a fav of our daughters family. Our first time, and I guess the name put me off, but the food was very nice with an Indian style with delicious plates of hummas and eggplant sauses to enjoy with the pita bread. This local restaurant now has several locations and it won't be our last visit. I was so full after the appetizer I could not eat my curry salad.

Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner out makes for an overful cheat day for me, but it was mostly healthy fare.

Why, by the way, when my recent lesson improved two parts of the game, driving and putting, has the iron game decided to go erratic on me? A humbling game, is golf.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The 40 year Date

Laura and I met when she was 20 and today she is *0, and I am so glad I saw her one day and wanted to meet her. And everyday I am happy that we are together. Happy Birthday Laura.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Do not bury your talents

Go to the beach, 30 yards, swim, sun, sounds, return to the beach house, go down stairs and rinse off the sand, go upstairs, sit and dry, go inside, drink an adult beverage, repeat several times a day for seven days. I could get used to that.

I do not believe talents are possessions, they are abilities to be shared and used and nurtured and expanded. Last night I put together a multi media hour with projector slides, video guest speaker, my own sharing, and music to share some insights on the human condition and the importance of keeping our mind clear of hindrances and hurts and scars. It was fun as always to teach, it is a gift, a talent, a responsibility, a joy.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Another boardwalk

Our second trip to Gulf Islands National Seashore was fun. This boardwalk crossed the small island marshy area and connects the dock to the oceans swimming area.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Upstate New York

Rochester in August was so lush and beautiful today at Oak Hill. Hard to believe that fall will hit in a month. This picture was taken during the brief years we lived in Oneonta NY. I loved the weather, the house we lived in for a couple of years, the snow, the schools the crisp smell of burning leaves. Can you still burn leaves up there. I doubt it.

An August Sunday

This Pascagoula pier is impressively long for a little city beach public pier. It was of course totally rebuilt after Katrina, we used to watch fireworks from the old wooden pier two decades ago.

My friend Mercy worships at a church where there is alot of corporate freedom to dance, and shout and praise. On Sundays when she emotes about their worship I wonder if the Lord accepts all kinds, as ours is fairly traditional and staid, although we sing and pray and listen with intensity.

I cannot picture my folks become like those younger free expression groups, too much cognative dissonance for me.

I enjoyed our worship this morning, beautiful songs, special music, and piano solo that was uplifting, and now the joy of the fourth round of the PGA. Someone is going to win this thing this afternoon.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Church Website is live

We went back to Indiana to celebrate my parents Wedding Anniversary when I was a teenager. I had this cute portable reel to reel tape recorder I stuck in her face. I have always love electronic gadgets involving sight and sound.

You are invited to peruse our website. It has nice pictures and explanations of some of our church mission. There are some recent sermons on Vimeo to watch from my I John series, sound better if you use headphones or earbuds to listen.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Turn around....and your a young girl...going out of the door

So it just so happened that we took vacations exactly three years apart, and we drove by my kids elementary school, and my grand daughter posed in front of the sign, and thus one of those amazing reasons to take photos, to prove to yourself and to your family and life is growth. See what those three years did to shoot Shannon up the lines on the board.

Also of note was the fact that three years earlier the school had been abandoned, and this trip it was refurbished for different types of education programs. To watch the feelings of my daughter Melissa to be walking on a playground after two plus decades is an amazing revelation of our marvelous brain and its ability to remember the past, which is what makes us in the image of God.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Golf is entertaining

Kialua Golf Course, Kauai on a rainy afternoon.

I am no longer a fan of Football, Baseball, Basketball, Tennis. I enjoy playoffs, I enjoy Olympics. But day in day out, Golf as a professional sport has kept my interest all my life. I enjoy being in the Tiger/Phil Era. I enjoyed growing up with Nicklaus, Watson, Trevino etc.

The struggle to remain an average golfer only reminded me how difficult getting that ball to obey your physics can be. And the weekends of the majors are majorly enjoyable for me.

Not a fan of slow play, love women's golf as well, even with the surge of golfers from Asian countries. Those girls are good.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

God forordains whatsoever comes to pass?

Me celebratin a certificate of learnin.

I love and respect truth, reverence God, and respect all efforts at living the Christian life. But when I revisited the pillars of my own early years of learning some of them began to tilt. The title is a statement in the Westminster Confession of Faith and it speaks of the omnisciece of God. He must be able to know what happens.

It is balanced by a second statement that declares the reality of second causes in creating the things that come to pass. Things like storms, or falling trees, or people who defy gravity by driving off cliffs. God will not interfere normally in the results of acts of evil, or things that go wrong.

The logic of such thinking was defended, and the result is a pretty harsh view of God and God's ways.

This week a python escaped its cage, slithered up a story and strangled two sleeping children. The python was hunting and hungry, the children were innocently sleeping, and a huge tragedy for a family. Not the place where you declare that God forordains whatsoever comes to pass.

I have read the other ways of thinking about how God watches and sometimes intercedes and sometimes does not in human history. I have wrestled and will continue to wrestle with the reality of theodicy, evil and pain and suffering in the world where a powerful and omniscient God gives us a few fragile decades of life. I like to think that God feels our pain when things go tragically wrong and whatever freedom we have been granted in this world is undergirded not so much with constant divine intervention, but with a healing and gracious conclusion to the great drama of life.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tuesday memory

I am glad to have this picture, probably taken by Mom. I am in the picture.

My parents bought me a used Cornet in the fourth grade, which I played until the tenth grade. In the ninth grade we were driven to the Henderson High Trojan Band Hall to be part of the High School Band so they could get the 125 marchers they needed. It was a big priviledge for us to leave our school and hang with the older kids.

I was third Cornet and never played long enough to challenge for a higher position, but that was OK because my memories of being on the halftime field, traveling to games, and learning the instrument were very fulfilling.

I have no idea, when we moved between ninth and tenth, why I did not sign up and play through highschool, especially when it was impossible to make the football team.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Flowers are nice

Laura is repotting several plants whose pots have disintegrated over the years, results of her hobby work tommorrow.

I once read that if a flower in a field were never observed by any human being its reason for existence would still be good, for God created it and its beauty is its own reward, in the panoply of creation. I like that.

Had a sleepless second half of the night, hot flashes from the Niaspan treatments, water softener recycles very long and loud, and something I learned in church triggered an anxiety that has been hard to control over the years.

We enjoyed a refreshing dip in our neighbors pool as a perk for keeping the golf cart battery exercised, Laura misses a back yard pool, me...not so much, for we have one around the corner that I do not have to maintain.

Saw our dove, who has been nesting under the back porch of that home all summer, had actually succeeded in raising two babies who were sharing their cramped space atop an outdoor heater and watching us warily as we swam.

Finished the seried on I John, always a bit of a struggle to discern the next direction. Know I am helping me when I teach and have been told others are being challenged as well.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Neighborhood Watch

Laura and I have found a new hobby as a result of exercising our friends golf cart this summer. The golf cart drive reminds me of the Sunday drives my family used to take back when gas was 35 cents a gallon. We look at houses, and especially doors as we are thinking about replacing our drafy old double front doors.

Two things stood out last evening, this bunny, of which we have many, was lounging on the golf course until we arrived and he tried to freeze so we would not notice, which enabled this picture,

The second was a rust collapse of a tennis light. Thought at first someone had bumped it, but no, the thing just gave way with the rust rot at the botton and took the Fence with it, oh, the joys of maintenance.

Off to share the news and the Lord's supper with our fellowship.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

One of the few who had a choice

Social Security Benefit Check is the new name on retirement checks I am told. This program had its origins in the railroad industry to provide security to those in that once massive transportation system. Over the decades everyone was included although Senators and Congressman do not participate, they have their own private retirement system that is quite generous.
I would enjoy spending time on the beach at Hanalei again.

Clergy used to be out of the system till they began allowing them to choose to join or not when I was entering the ministry. You had to have a conscientious objection to the system mixing church and state. The church folks were expected to take care of their own paid staff. My personal take was related to the issue of the lesser tithing to the greater. A person contributes to the pastors upkeep by giving to the church and then the church asks the pastor to send a portion to the government for his final upkeep.

These days with the connection of social security to medicare it would be near impossible for someone out of the system to afford private healthcare till they pass. As it is medicade is burdened beyond hope of solvency long term.

The saddest thing about the whole system other than the fact that your money has long been spent is what would happen if you saved that money regularly throughout your career you would have amassed so much more than the percentage they decide you should live on.

I hear rumblings in our secular culture that all church and clergy tax benifits should be ended, and would not be surprised if that happens. My working career began quite young in the food industry as a bagboy.(bag person??/)and then a long employment as a lifeguard/water safety instructor. I had other stints in various sales industries, financial planning, insurance, business benifits.

I have qualified for SS and Medicare, and still kept my clergy salary seperate. I watch with interest how our system will handle us baby boomers in the coming years in a climate that seems to have forgotten to honor its commitments to those no longer working.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A long time waiting

My young bride is the reason we have saved and managed money over the decades. When I handled the check book and the budget we crashed and burned repeatedly, she is just better at money management and budgeting than I am....and prettier.

Each week I visit one of our members who has been in hospice care going on five months, unable to walk, extreme weight loss, no appetite, digestive problems, very weak, hard of hearing, dependent upon oxygen.

She wonders why she is being punished, and I seek to assure her this may be a test, but not a punishment. I also repeated my observation over the years of hospice care that no one can will the heart to stop beating or the lungs to stop working. They are genetically programed to fight for the last breath of air and live, which is good, until times like this when the sweet saint is no longer in this world but cannot cross to the next, week after week. I have no easy answers and pray for her attitude and for God to be merciful.

Nice visit with my dentist, lots of conversation and laughing with the staff whom I have known for almost two decades. Teeth cleaned, discussion of the reason why as we age some people have a tooth move out from the others, squeezed for space. This is happening to me and I may have to do something about it to save my smile.

Shared my retirement info and plan with Laura, she sees it, involves some savings goals, some time with less and then OK for the duration, dependent upon....health, dying, the American economy, the World Economy, postponing WWIII, identity theft, or any other of the things we cannot control. So its all "a Lord willing" plan.

Thoughts for August

Since my health history has been so fragile, I am always ready for a quick exit. But I find that for the first time I must be planning for future retirement. We know Laura's date, mine is negotiable and dependent on health and other issues. But at least I have some figures to toss around and timelines to consider. I know this, it involves living on less than you are living on now with two incomes, so you have to find out what bills can shrink, or go away and when. So thats a fun project for thought.

All summer things are slow here with so many gone for the summer and vacationing, but August is even a bit slower, a good time for me to gear up for fall with subjects and ideas for helping people grow.

For the first time in many years, my August man trip is not going to happen. I have really enjoyed a week by myself at a conference or a specific area. Last summers Corn Belt trip was so awesome and relaxing and fulfilling, but after spending all that time on the road alone, it was spooky to come home, and in just a few days, experience a heart blockage that probably would have done me in if i was in the middle of Kansas or Iowa. So, no batchelor trip.

I have however decided that an instate short trip is OK, an overnighter to see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, something not done in my 24 years here. It will not be planned until the repair to my favorite zoom lens at the Canon facility, which is happening as we speak.

I heard the road to the north rim contains a detour since a section of the hwy to Page, AZ collapsed in an earthquake last year. Very cool.

So, August, slow, and hot, time for preparation for the fall, time to continue eating right, exercising, and living in the present.